Don't be S.A.D. The sun will shine again

Feeling a bit blue lately? It's not surprising with all the cold, wet weather that has been happening in usually sunny Southern California in recent weeks. But don't fret. That down-in-the-dumps mood isn't all in your head.

S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder), also known winter blues, is a disorder that occurs during reduced daylight hours of the fall and winter months, leaving with little energy to do little more than pull the covers up. Even normally cheery people can experience depressive symptoms after long periods of dreary weather and shortened daylight hours.

According to, the reduction of daily light exposure causes shifts in hormone and chemical levels in the brain. The two main hormones responsible for SAD are serotonin, which is responsible for 'feel good' mood, and melatonin, which is responsible for inducing sleep. Some people are more sensitive than others to the reduction of natural light during the day and will produce more melatonin and less serotonin during the autumn and winter months. These chemical shifts disrupt the circadian rhythm, worsen moods, and decrease energy level

Initially skeptical, experts now recognized this condition as a common disorder. Even the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was changed and is no longer classified as a unique mood disorder but a seasonal pattern of recurrent depression that occurs at a specific time of the year. The disorder is more prevalent in places such as Alaska (9.9 percent) than Florida (1.4 percent).

Countries closest to the equator report almost no incidences of S.A.D, whereas extreme northern and southern countries have high incidences.